1.14.2006

if i lived in portugal, who would i vote for?

I have to make a similar choice living in Canada come January 23rd, but one day prior, the Portuguese go to the polls to make a decision on who they want to be their next president.

I was too young when I left Portugal to vote for anyone, so I don't know the process. From what I've read, the President, is the head of state, and a position that has been in place since 1910. After the Carnation Revolution, the President was given a 5-year term. The current President's, Jorge Sampaio, has served 2 consecutive terms, which they can, but now a new President has to be elected. Follow this link to see a complete list of all previous Presidents of Portugal.

How is the President elected?


The President is elected, as in France, on a two-round system (if no candidate achieves 50% of the votes on the first round, the two most voted candidates face each other in a second round held three weeks later). However, only once, in 1986, was a second turn necessary. To date, all presidents since the Revolution served the two consecutive terms constitutionally allowed (a president who serves two terms can't be reelected before two presidential elections ellapse), and presidents consistently rank as the most popular political figure in the country.
(Source)

I was always told that the President, really, has no affect on the country, and as head of state is only there for PR purposes 99% of the time. He's the face of Portugal in and out of the country, but I wanted to double check what exactly the powers were.

I visited the official web site of the President. No help there, although, it appears to be in dire need of a redesign. The best description, I found, but only in Portuguese for which I did a quick translation:

1. O Presidente da República exerce as funções de Comandante Supremo das Forças Armadas e nomeia e exonera, sob proposta do Governo, o Chefe do Estado-Maior General das Forças Armadas e os Chefes de Estado-Maior dos três ramos das Forças Armadas.
Translation: He heads up the Military & chooses who runs each of the three branches.

2. O Presidente da República pode dissolver a Assembleia da República, o que implica a necessidade de convocação de novas eleições parlamentares e após a realização destas, a demissão do Governo.
Translation: He can dissolve Parliament (which he did in 2004)

3. O Presidente da República nomeia o Primeiro Ministro tendo em conta os resultados eleitorais e nomeia os restantes membros do Governo sob proposta do Primeiro Ministro. Pode, por outro lado, demitir o Governo quando tal se torne necessário para assegurar o regular funcionamento das instituições democráticas.
Translation: Based on election results, he names the Prime Minister and his/her cabinet members per his/her suggestion.

4. Os órgãos de governo próprios das regiões autónomas podem ser dissolvidos pelo Presidente da República, por prática de actos graves contrários à Constituição
Translation: He can dissolve the current bodies of government and each autonomous region of Portugal.

5. O Presidente da República declara o estado de sítio e de emergência, ouvido o Governo e sob autorização da Assembleia da República.
Translation: He is the one to declare a state of emergency, upon approval by Parliament.

6. Sob proposta do Governo e mediante autorização da Assembleia da República, o Presidente da República pode declarar a guerra em caso de agressão efectiva ou iminente e fazer a paz.
Translation: Upon approval by Parliament, he can declare war/peace.

7. O Presidente da República promulga ou assina e, consequentemente, pode vetar a promulgação ou assinatura de leis, decretos-leis, decretos regulamentares e restantes decretos do Governo.
Translation: He's the final step in making/changing laws.

8. No domínio das suas competências nas relações internacionais, o Presidente da República ratifica os tratados internacionais.
Translation: He takes care of international treaties.

9. O Presidente da República decide sobre a convocação do referendo cuja realização lhe seja proposta pela Assembleia da República.
Translation: After a referendum, he with Parliament's suggestion, will call a referendum.

10. Presidente da República pode requerer ao Tribunal Constitucional a apreciação preventiva da constitucionalidade de normas constantes de convenções internacionais ou de decretos que lhe tenham sido enviados para promulgação como lei orgânica, lei ou decreto-lei
Translation: Upon there being new international laws, he asks the Supreme Court to evaluate them.

11. O Presidente da República nomeia e exonera, em alguns casos sob proposta do Governo, titulares de importantes órgãos do Estado como sejam os Ministros da República para as regiões autónomas, o Presidente do Tribunal de Contas e o Procurador Geral da República, cinco membros do Conselho de Estado e dois vogais do Conselho Superior da Magistratura
Translation: He names important personnel to certain areas of the government.

12. O Presidente da República nomeia os embaixadores e os enviados extraordinários, sob proposta do Governo, e acredita os representantes diplomáticos estrangeiros.
Translation: He names foreign diplomats and ambassadors.

13. O Presidente da República, ouvido o Governo, indulta e comuta penas.
Translation: After consulting with the government, he can give pardons and assign sentences.
Let's review the candidates (with a link to their official site)

Aníbal Cavaco Silva
Former Prime Minister, supported by the PSD (Social Democratic Party) and by CDS/PP (People's Party).

Mário Alberto Soares
Supported by the PS (Socialist Party), and a former President (1986-1996)

Jéronimo Carvalho de Sousa
Supported by the PCP (Communist Party) and Os Verdes (Ecologist Party), and is the current Secretary-General of the Portuguese Communist Party.

Francisco Anacleto Louçã
Supported by the Bloco de Esquera (Leftist Bloc), and is the Coordinator of the political commision of the party.

António Garcia Pereira
The Secretary General of the PCTP-MRPP (Communist Party of the Portuguese Workers - Reorganizative Movement of the Party of the Proletariat).

Manuel Alegre Duarte
Belongs to the PS (Socialist Party), but decided to run independently.

Now, who to vote for? I researched each candidate, and in keeping with political tradition, I have to say that choosing a president is a serious process, and I being a concerned citizen must take this decision to my assembly where I will discuss it until there is no more to discuss and then, will be the time that I will make my decision, but not before, I try not to make it for as much time as possible.

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